Editorial Review

Citi Rewards+ Student Review: Unique Features for Smaller Spenders

Students who spend a lot on gas and groceries may benefit, and the card's rounding feature helps with small purchases. But more lucrative options exist.

Melissa LambarenaJuly 8, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

3.8

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: It offers some features you won't find elsewhere, but even among cards targeted toward students, it lags in terms of earning potential and perks.

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

on Citibank's application

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 7 months

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
$0
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
0% on Purchases for 7 months

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • No annual fee

Cons
  • Foreign transaction fee

Alternate Pick: Higher rewards potential

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Potentially large sign-up bonus

Earn 5% cash back on rotating quarterly bonus categories on up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter (activation required), and 1% back on everything else. In the past, bonus categories have included grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and more. You'll also get a sign-up bonus: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched. The annual fee is $0.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

26.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

20.24% Variable

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 7 months

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card can be valuable for students who frequently spend on gas and groceries.

The card’s unique “round up” feature boosts your earnings on small purchases like that snack on the way to class. And it offers an annual “Points Back” benefit on rewards you redeem, up to a limit.

You'll need good credit to qualify, however — in which case, you may be able to find cards that are more generous or forgiving.

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card: Basics

Card type: College student.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 2,500 bonus points after you spend $500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com.

Rewards:

  • 2 ThankYou points per $1 spent at supermarkets and gas stations (for the first $6,000 spent per year).

  • 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • 10% points back for the first 100,000 ThankYou Points redeemed per year.

Rewards are rounded up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase. So if you buy a $3 college-ruled notebook, you get 10 points instead of three. Citi ThankYou points are worth about 1 cent each on average depending on how you redeem them, according to NerdWallet valuations. The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card offers a variety of redemption options: travel, gift cards, statement credits (for eligible purchases only), and shopping online with points at Amazon.com or BestBuy.com.

Interest rate: 0% on Purchases for 7 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fee: 3%.

Other perks:

  • Citi Entertainment, which offers access to presale tickets, VIP packages to concerts, sporting events and more.

  • Citi Concierge, which can assist with things like travel and dining plans.

  • Benefits such as extended warranty, 90-day return protection and worldwide car rental insurance, to name a few.

Why you might want the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Decent ongoing rewards: Cards marketed toward students don't always offer rewards. Generally, their primary purpose is to help you establish credit, and indeed the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card reports to all three major credit bureaus. But it also offers 2 ThankYou points per $1 spent at supermarkets and gas stations (for the first $6,000 spent per year combined), and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Those are potentially valuable categories for college students.

Unique features: In college, every little bit helps. For starters, this card's “round up” feature can make smaller purchases more rewarding. A pizza that costs $10.99 will be rounded up to 20 ThankYou points back, worth 20 cents at the highest redemption level. For comparison, using a flat-rate 1.5% cash-back card for the same purchase nets you only about 16 cents back. You'll also get 10% of your points back for the first 100,000 ThankYou Points redeemed each year. That's worth a maximum of $100 annually at the highest redemption level. Plus, there's a modest sign-up bonus: Earn 2,500 bonus points after you spend $500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com. Again, every little bit helps.

An intro APR period to pay off purchases: The card's introductory offer can buy you some time to pay off pricey textbooks or school supplies. You'll get an intro 0% on Purchases for 7 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR. Pay off your balance in full every month once the offer expires to keep interest payments from chipping away at your rewards.

Why you might want a different card

You want more lucrative rewards. The $0-annual-fee Discover it® Student Cash Back has a potentially generous sign-up bonus if you’re willing to wait for it. Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched. The card also earns 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories that change quarterly, on up to $1,500 in combined purchases made per quarter (activation is required). It earns 1% back on everything else. Previous bonus categories have included things like grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants. (See current bonus categories here.) You’ll also get an annual $20 statement credit for up to five years if you maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher.

You spend more on dining out than dining in. The $0-annual-fee Discover it® Student chrome offers 2% cash back on up to $1,000 spent per quarter in combined spending at gas stations and restaurants, and 1% back on everything else. If you spend more at restaurants than you do at the grocery store, it could be a better pick.

You want more forgiving policies. Both the Discover it® Student Cash Back and the Discover it® Student chrome let you skip the fee for the first late payment, and neither charges a penalty APR. (Be aware, though, that paying late can still affect your credit scores.)

You travel internationally. The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee per purchase, making it a poor travel companion if you’re planning to travel or study abroad. The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® spares you those pesky fees, and it offers 1% cash back on all spending, plus an extra 0.25% for paying on time. That’s a good starting rate for a student credit card. It has a $0 annual fee.

You have little or no credit history. The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card requires good credit — an obstacle for many students without a credit history. The Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students doesn’t rely solely on credit history to determine whether you qualify. The issuer has its own underwriting process to evaluate your application. The card earns 1% cash back on all purchases. You’ll miss out on a sign-up bonus, but the card packs value in other ways. It offers to reimburse one free year of Amazon Prime Student — a $59 value. And as a Mastercard without foreign transaction fees, it’s also a worthy travel companion abroad. It has a $0 annual fee.

Is the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card right for you?

If you spend the bulk of your budget on gas and groceries, the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card can offer a lot of value, as well as some unique features you won't find elsewhere. But depending on your spending habits and your credit scores, you might find more lucrative options.

Comments

NerdWallet reviews are the result of independent research by our editorial team while cardholder reviews are contributions from independent users not affiliated with NerdWallet. Banks, issuers and credit card companies are not responsible for any content posted on the NerdWallet site, nor do they endorse or guarantee any posted comments or reviews.

Write a review

Read Our Posting Guidelines
user avatar
Overall Rating:
Select your rating
undefined reviews

Some of the reviews on the NerdWallet site were purchased through a third party provider. Users who post a review directly on the NerdWallet site will not be compensated in any way. Please see our Terms of Use and Posting Guidelines for more information.